Kiev, Ukraine | – Ukraine’s energy ministry has demanded that Russia hand over two billion cubic meters of gas stored at an underground facility in Crimea, which it said belongs to the state-run Ukrainian gas major Naftogaz.
“In the territory of Crimean peninsula … there are two billion cubic meters in the storage of Chernomornaftogaz, that are an economic property of Naftogaz,” Ukrainian Deputy Energy Minister Ihor Didenko said Thursday.
Didenko proposed Russian energy giant Gazprom transfer the gas to another facility in mainland Ukraine.
The demand comes despite Naftogaz having outstanding $3.5 billion debts for Russian gas, which Kiev refuses to pay with gas prices set at $485 per thousand cubic meters. On April 1, the price of Russian gas for Ukraine rose to $485 per thousand cubic meters from $268.50, as Russia withdrew two major discounts.
Responding to a question on the amount of expected Russian gas deliveries for May, Didenko said earlier this month that Naftogaz hoped to receive around 3.4 billion cubic meters of gas.
“In April we received, I think, less: between 2.5 and 3 billion cubic meters,” he added.
Because of Ukraine’s arrears, Russian gas giant Gazprom has introduced a prepayment plan with Ukraine. On Tuesday, it presented Neftogaz with a prepayment bill for gas for June. If it is not paid in advance, the Russian firm has threatened to cut off deliveries to Ukraine on June 3.
On Wednesday, it said there was a risk that the Ukrainian state-run gas company could fail to fulfill its commitments on gas transit, siphoning off gas destined for European consumers.